The building qualifications prisoners are gaining, promise to be very useful after their release. They are getting lots of practical training as well. In the prison joinery they produce attic ladders, playhouses and all kinds of other wooden products that the prison is contracted to make or, in the case of the dog kennels, can use for the Department’s detection dogs.

The young offenders unit also houses a joinery where prisoners learn to make bird houses, using recycled material.

Prison Manager George Massingham of Hawke's Bay Regional Prison is actively encouraging the rehabilitation and integration of prisoners through a range of programmes. “We have even got barista training on the horizon. One of the staff will be training to be a barista instructor, who will in turn train prisoners. This gives them a useful qualification, allowing them to earn their own money when they leave prison.”

The kitchen also provides hands-on NZQA training for about 30 prisoners while gaining qualifications. Two instructors are qualified assessors so prisoners can be assessed for NZQA qualifications while they work. George says: “Hospitality is another great area for prisoners to get into as they are always looking for new staff.”

The whole prison environment is focused on rehabilitation, on prisoners creating a healthier and crime-free lifestyle. In a high security unit a mural is being sketched and painted by prisoners. It shows Maori ancestors and gives prisoners a sense of their kaupapa. “The images inspire prisoners to be proud of their heritage and to get to know it a bit more. It all helps to create an environment aimed at reducing re-offending.”

The mural of 12 ancestors helps Maori prisoners reconnect with their culture.